FEEDBACK, INTERVIEWS AND CRITIQUES
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“Sometimes it takes an outsider to cut through the routines of interpretation in the most intractable problems in science. That is what Vendramini’s approach offers the reader in his daring claims about the interactions between humans and their most famous evolutionary relatives, the Neanderthals. In doing so he provokes lots of new thoughts for professional and lay reader alike.”
Emeritus Professor of Archaeology, University of New England.
Visiting Professor of Australian Studies, Harvard University, Massachusetts
“I couldn’t put it down once I’d started reading it… I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a book more than ‘Them and Us’ in my life… one of the best books you’ll ever read.”
Radio 2UE interview with Danny Vendramini on Saturday 24th October.
A podcast of the interview is available on the 2UE website – Saturday 24th October. 2009
“In Them and Us, Danny Vendramini presents a truly unique and innovative picture of the role of Neandertal predation in human evolution.
For more than 150 years, anthropologists have been studying Neandertals, their fossils, their archaeological remains, and most recently their DNA. It is surprising to see how little of what has been written about Neandertals lately is really new and exciting. Late 19th Century scientists viewed Neandertals as an extinct hominin species, one somewhat less intelligent, social, and technologically adept than us, and who were easily driven to extinction by expanding populations of Homo sapiens around 30,000 years ago. This is not much different from the consensus position today.
Vendramini pulls together countless different threads of scientific evidence to re-cast Neandertals as “apex predators”, proverbial “wolves with knives” who were effective rivals with our ancestors. His thesis that many physical, social, and psychological characteristics now seen as uniquely human are direct results of Neandertal predation on our ancestors will be sure to ignite controversy in scientific meetings, university classrooms, and among any group of people genuinely interested in human evolution.
It has been a long time since I read a book about human evolution that I enjoyed so much.”
John J. Shea
Anthropology Department & Turkana Basin Institute
Stony Brook University, NY.
“We’ve been called the ‘third chimpanzee’. Instead, Vendramini asks: Why are we such a distinctively odd primate species — anatomically, behaviourally, and beset by dark atavistic fears? His thesis that intensive predation by Neanderthals enforced rapid, protective, evolutionary changes offers innovative insight into the many things about ‘us’ that we might otherwise take for granted. A well-argued case to be answered.”
Professor of Population Health, NHMRC Australia Fellow
National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health
The Australian National University. Canberra
“a thought provoking outside-the-square theory which may or may not ruffle the feathers of the scientific establishment”.
Palaeontologist, Dr Ben McHenry, South Australian Museum
“A fascinating and thought- provoking idea; the perfect basis for an epic Hollywood blockbuster.”
Dr Gavin Prideaux, School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University.
“This book could, hopefully will, bring about revolutionary and productive changes in our understanding of human nature.”
Dr. Andrew Bell, author of Creative Health
“A darling, possibly revolutionizing theory, well-reasoned and well researched.”
Professor Johan van der Dennen, author of The Origins of War
Adelaide Advertiser. September 18, 2009
by Samela Harris.
“NEANDERTHAL man was not the hirsute simpleton history books have been portraying, an independent Sydney scholar believes.
Neanderthal man was a vicious rapist and cannibal – and ugly too…”
The Daily Telegraph – Sydney Australia September 18, 2009
By Malcolm Holland
“THEY have long been painted by modern science as our placid cousins, living alongside early man until finally dying out.
But a new theory paints Neanderthal man as a brutal carnivore who hunted and raped humans then ate his victims.
In his controversial new book, Sydney “biological theorist” Danny Vendramini claims Eurasian Neanderthals almost wiped out early humans, called Cro-Magnons….”
“Great theory, explains a lot.
I’m a layperson, not a scientist, but I would really like to see this theory taken up by a film-maker as either a feature film or doco.
Thanks for the nightmares!”
“Okay! I will get my minor grumble out of the way first. I don’t think the book’s extensive bibliography is necessary – nor appropriate for book that is aimed at the popular science market. Publishers frown on too many citations as they make the book too academic and ‘high brow.’ If this puts readers off this book it would be a pity .
Now to the positive. I thought Them and Us exceptionally well crafted, mercifully free of jargon and written like a detective story that sweeps you along on an exhilarating ride – to all sorts of exotic new intellectual locales. Part of his racy style is to dress up his chapter titles with journalistic flourishes, like “The lean mean killing machine”, “When mutants roamed the earth” and “Getting the psychopaths off the streets.” These titles give the flavour of his very readable style. As someone who relates strongly to visual information, I especially appreciated the copious illustrations. There is also a useful Glossary.
All this though is peripheral to Vendramini’s ideas which are the beating heart of this amazing book, and which elevate it to the very best science writing. His ideas and theories are a veritable scientific tour de force, reminiscent of Darwin, Mendel, Galileo and other radical scientific adventurers. He has applied his artistic imagination to speculate on an evolutionary scenario and then supported it with a great deal of archaeological and genetic evidence. Reading Them and Us reminded me of the first time I read The Origin of Species at university nearly twenty years ago, it has the same sense of inspired intellect, audacity and sheer brilliance.”
Nov 2nd 2009
Please let me begin by introducing myself as a very close friend of Sue Scott in Auckland, wife of Dick. She has just passed on to me and advanced reading copy of THEM + US, knowing of my passionate interest in physical anthropology and the fundamental questions of how we first became human and how we came to populate all corners of the planet as modern human beings.
I have only made a small start on your book, the preface and a few favourite topics via the index. And I am writing now (so early) as I know soon you will be far too busy to read everything that comes your way and this modest effort will be well and truly lost. However a year (or 2?) ago Sue also passed on to me a paper of yours that I realize now was an early outline of your Teem theory. It was largely over my head, and reminded to me Larmarck and the inheritance of acquired characteristics, of course largely discredited. But subsequent dabbling in reading about human genetics and evolution allowed me to make a connection between what you were saying and recent discoveries that new genetic changes arising from experience not mutation could somehow make their way into germ cells and thus be passed on immediately to the next generation. Out of my depth here. But I then became very keen to get hold of your promised book.
Back to THEM AND US (largely unread, I repeat) but the central theses: the link between our primal and mythic “stories” and our early experiences as humans seems so profoundly insightful and right that I feel very very excited about really getting into the detail in the coming weeks of close reading. Also lately I have been dwelling on the issue of our violent and homicidal nature, which is not seen in gorillas but is seemingly rooted in chimpanzee society but oddly not seen in bonobos. So again your work is a very exciting offering: an explanation of our warrior nature.
You as an outsider to the professional academic community are not automatically constrained by the need for orthodoxy in how you see things, plus you bring in a whole new realm of experience and expertise from the arts world. (It reminds me of Brian Boyd writing on the development of music/art and its evolutionary “purpose”.) I have come across two other passionate enthusiasts in this field of anthropology, one especially who has not gained the recognition and support her ideas deserve. I hope you don’t meet this fate: I do feel the academic community so jealously guards its patch that it cannot afford to acknowledge that an outsider can discover the “truth” that has eluded their “expert” investigation.
(This email was edited for length)
“10 our of 10. I couldn’t put it down. Amazing!!!”
Roger the Dodger, Hobart
Dec 2. 2009
The comfort you take from your deterministic Darwinian view of the universe is illusionary. Your mechanistic world lacks meaning. It lacks beauty. And most important it lacks redemption. That’s a fact. Real comfort lies in a higher ideal. You will see that one day. Game over.
[name witheld by request]
Them + Us is stunning intellectual step towards understanding the behaviour and disposition of “modern man”, especially homo sapiens’ inability as a species to yet surmount the deep habits of fearful, aggressive and xenophobic behaviour.
The huge span of subject matter integrated into the central thesis of Neandertal predation of Cro Magnon man provides an architecture of human development as fundamental as The Origin of the Species. Congratulations and thank you.
MA Hons Rhodes Scholar
I just found your interesting website and I have a question. Why, if the Neanderthals were such major carnivores, are they illustrated as having such apparently non-carnivore looking teeth?
I am not any kind of anthropologist, nor very knowledgeable about the kind of things your book appears to be about, but this did kind of jump out at me.
Thanks for your question – and a good one it is too. Neanderthal teeth (right) were almost twice as large as human teeth and their jaws had considerably more bite force as well. However, they never acquired the long pointy canine teeth of lions or wolves and I think there’s a good reason for this. These kind of long sharp teeth (usually two up and two down and curved backwards) evolved as lethal weapons to hold, incapacitate and kill prey. Neanderthals could grab their prey with their powerful arms and kill them with their flint tipped thrusting spears. They also used razor sharp flint knives to butcher their quarry and fires to cook the flesh. In other words, Neanderthal intelligence, group hunting techniques and superior weaponry made canine teeth obsolete.
I hope this answers your question.
I studied prehistory @ Sydney uni. I admire the courage shown in publishing your conclusions. The potential significance of human/neanderthal interaction cannot be overstated. Whilst it is impossible to say exactly how accurate your model is of course, I believe it is a huge step in the right direction & a milestone in the evolution of our understanding of ourselves. As you would be aware, what we have been willing to accept about our past has always reflected attitudes in the present day. I think a lot of academics have quietly reached similar conclusion to your own, but now NPT has provided a single banner under which to muster ideas & debate. An example is megafauna question here in Australia. Evidence suggests aboriginal people made a sort of war on large, hairy animals from some point in the pleistocene. There have been mass megafauna graves discovered, that academics try to explain away as the result of drought. Dreamtime stories talk about relatively harmless animals like diprotodons as organised groups that abduct women & children. Where did such an archetype originate? Why did or do we see the natural world as a threat that we must strive against? Why is the particular threat of abduction a constant theme in such myths? Now perhaps, we are finally facing the answer.
One question I must ask you though, is are you certain all neanderthals were actually wiped out? I have long thought they are probably still around in the form of yowies, big foot & so on. I don’t think it beyond the realms of possibility that a species so ancient, intelligent & adapted to extremes as neanderthals could survive as a remnant population to the present day without us realising. Perhaps in the end, they even evolved radically under the pressure of interaction just as we did.
All the best
As to whether a few solitary Neanderthals still survive in remote places, I personally think some hard evidence would have been found by now.
In the book, I argue that the reason humans all around the world still believe in the existence of forest dwelling, Neanderthal-like creatures (like Yetis) is because Neanderthals were hardwired into the human genome as teems (or emotional memories) during the 50,000 year period of predation. This is an adaptation that all prey species acquire – designed to help them to quickly and instinctively recognize predators and escape before it’s too late. Today, when these teems are triggered, they produce the sensations of Neanderthals (what they felt like) which can then be expressed via myths, folklore, hoaxes and art. Because the emotions are real, they can even manifest as ‘eyewitness’ accounts of sightings, similar to the way ‘false memory syndrome’ works.
‘A Look Back at Ourselves’
Monday 26th October
Presenter Bren McGurk
A new book by independent scholar Danny Vendramini is challenging previous beliefs about human evolution.
‘Them and Us: How Neanderthal Predation Created Modern Humans’, cites research that reveals Neanderthals as savage, cannibalistic carnivores, with humans included in their prey.
Previously thought to be docile omnivores, the predacious nature of the Neanderthal instigated the development of many characteristics that are intrinsically human.
Pulling together a number of different threads of scientific evidence, the book’s a unique look at evolution and the role of Neanderthals in human development.
Bren McGurk spoke to Author Danny Vendramini and took a closer look at where we came from…
Listen to the RTRFM Podcast of Bren McGuirk’s interview with Danny Vendramini:
I write to express my appreciation for your work Them + Us. It delves beyond the current boundaries but yet not beyond sight of intuition. There is nothing surprising in your work which is to say that there are no leaps of logic or tenuous bridges of faith that ask us to suspend our understanding of the world as we see it. Just little footsteps of evidence and reason.
I do have one little question that I hope you can answer. It is to do with the period when humans and Neanderthals co-existed. This period which you have, I believe, estimated to be around 50,000 years and the subsequent period of indirect evolutionary impact saw a large amount of change in humans. My question is does this level of evolutionary change have a precedent? Have other species undergone this amount of evolutionary development in a similar amount of time? Perhaps there is nothing comparable or maybe it was but a small change in comparison to others that have occurred. This question is in no way to attack your work but merely a loose end my mind pulled at.
Intuitively I would guess that this period of evolution is not extraordinary but I can’t support this.
Thanks again. I haven’t found a book this thought-provoking since I first read Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael with which, now I think of it, has some strange parallels to your work. The idea that Neanderthals were not just brainless zombies as they have been so often dismissed but rather intelligent, predatory beings sits somewhere near Quinn’s idea that evolution draws all species towards self-aware, higher forms of what they were.
Thanks for your email and question about the length of time early humans and Neanderthal lived in the same area, and whether the evolutionary impact exerted during this time has a precedent.
The evidence suggests that Neanderthals and early humans may have occupied the same area for at least 50,000 years, (and possible much longer) but in the book, I argue that the indirect impact of Neanderthal predation continued right up to the Late Neolithic Period (a mere 2000 years ago). This adds another 45,000 years of evolutionary pressure. In other words, human evolution may have been impacted by Neanderthals (directly or indirectly) for a whopping 95,000 years.
95,000 years sounds a lot, and it is, but when tying to estimate how much time is needed for evolutionary modifications to occur, the number of years is less relevant than the number of generations. For example, a hundred generations of insects can live and die during one human life.
At 20 years per generation, it means that about 4750 generations of humans were subject to selective pressures generated by Neanderthal predation. Considering that only 100 generations have lived since the time of the ancient Romans, 4750 generations is more than enough time for a macroevolutionary event to occur.
Ultimately though, the speed of evolution is related to selection pressure. The greater the selection pressure, the faster and stronger natural selection works. In other words, if there’s something in the organism’s environment that is killing off individuals at an unusually high rate, it means that new mutations that stop or reduce the death rate tend to get selected very quickly.
For example, on the Galapagos Islands, during a drought caused by El Nino, 85% of the finches on one island died of starvation in one year because the small seeds they normally ate died during the drought. The only birds to survive were those born with unusually large beaks that could crack open the bigger seeds that survived the drought. When the drought ended, all the new hatchlings featured this larger, more robust beak. This change in beak size happened in one generation. (Grant, PR & Grant, BR. 2002, Unpredictable evolution in a 30-year study of Darwin’s finches, Science 296, pp.707–711.)
As to whether other species have undergone this amount of evolutionary development, it’s impossible to say for sure. I scoured the literature for any documented case of a prey species undergoing macroevolutonary modifications that reversed the predator-prey relationship with its predator but didn’t find any. I guess the conclusions that emerge form this is that humans are a unique animal species because of unique environmental and ecological factors that occurred at just the time, and for long enough, to create this extraordinary one-off species.
I hope this answers your question.
I listened to an interview today on ABC radio which was unfortunately cut short due to the news.
The general subject of your book (how did modern humans appear) has for years been one of fascination for me. I have yet to get hold of your book but will do so at earliest opportunity.
Your contention that modern humans appeared some 50,000 years or so ago would appear to be held by many anthropologists as true.
My understanding is that discoveries at Lake Mungo in Australia suggest that humans were in Australia at least 50,000 years ago and perhaps as long ago as 100,000 years . This pre-dates much of what I have read about the appearance of modern humans on the planet.
If we accept that the humans present in Australia at the time of European discovery are modern humans (and I think the overwhelming evidence is that they are) how did they get there?
I understand Australia has been an island since the well before the appearance of early humans on the planet and therefore it appears a degree of seamanship far advanced from other humans was needed for them to arrive and settle the continent. A skill which was then abandoned.
Were the early humans in Australia a separate species that evolved independently into a species identical to the European (or African) species? Appears unlikely to me.
It appears to me that many publications and talks about the early history and migration of Homo sapiens seems to overlook or ignore the question of the origin of humans in Australia.
As I said, the subject is of fascination to me and I would be interested to hear your views.
Part of the reason for this is a huge variety of dates of the earliest sites that have been proposed. Many of the early dates have now shown to be grossly inflated. The earliest widely-accepted date for the arrival of modern humans in Australia is around 38,000 years ago, (Pearce, RH & Barbetti, M 1981, ‘A 38,000-year-old archaeological site at Upper Swan, Western Australia’, Archaeology in Oceania 16, pp.173–178.).
However, a recent review of the data suggests occupation possibly as early as 42,000–45,000 years ago. (O’Connella, JF & Allen, J 2004, ‘Dating the colonization of Sahul (Pleistocene Australia–New Guinea): a review of recent research’, Journal of Archaeological Science 31, pp.835–853.)
The latest and most reliable dates for Mungo Man (see picture left) in western New South Wales are about 40,000 years. (Bowler JM, Johnston H, Olley JM, Prescott JR, Roberts RG, Shawcross W, Spooner NA. (2003). “New ages for human occupation and climatic change at Lake Mungo, Australia.”. Nature 421 (6925): 837-40.)
In other words, early reports that humans arrived here in Australia 60,000 years ago (or earlier) have now been shown to be incorrect.
The consensus view now is that modern humans crossed open water and arrived in Australia no later than 45,000 years ago, and probably closer to 40,000 years ago. This fits perfectly with NP theory, which asserts that fully modern humans left the Levant about 47,000 years ago on their global migration, and arrived on the northern shores of Australia a few thousand years later.
Hope this helps
I just finished reading your amazing book, Them + Us. One of the most stimulating books I ever read.
Hindus from eastern India worship a goddess called Durga every year. This is their biggest religious festival. Indian community here in Sydney celebrate it too. I would like to invite you to the celebration and see the goddess. I want you to see what the goddess does or did. I am sure you’ll see a connection with NP theory. Unfortunately last celebration was in September. We’ll have to wait for the next one in 2010.
Looking forward to hear from you.
Thanks for your email and kind comments about the book, and thanks too for the invitation to the Durga celebrations next year. I’d love to come. I’m a great fan of India and a student of Indian mythology so this sounds very exciting. The recurring themes in Indian mythology you mention are in fact universal – once you look at world mythology and folklore through the lens of NP theory, it’s surprising how many commonalties you find. Anyway, I look forward to discussing these with you at next year’s festival.
All the best
Thank you. Just found your interesting site this morning via a comment on Art de Vany’s private blog, a proponent of “evolutionary fitness,” a sort of approach to nutrition and exercise informed by evolutionary principles.
I’ll be alerting the readers of my blog to the website and book later today.
Sorry for my late reply. I did get the book but I was away in two conferences. I appreciate your efforts to overcome the difficulties and ambiguities of the current literature (say of the last two decades).
As originally non-English speaker I read until now the first part that deals mainly with the Levant. My impression is that you missed a few more recent publications that clearly state that the Neanderthals arrived around 70 Ka and were “gone” by 45 Ka (all dates uncalibrated). There is yet no evidence for the co-existence of the two populations or Skhul-Qafzeh moderns and the Neanderthals who occupied all ecological habitat in the Levant. They are in Dederiyeh (north Syria to down Tor Faraj in southern Jordan and of course in Mt Carmel and Wadi Amud.
The famous Tabun C1 , according to Garrod could have been intrusive (she clearly stated it- see OBY and Jane Callander paper in JHE) and although a date of 125 Ka was obtained by ESR, I doubt the validity of the results because all ESR Tabun dates were off. The 171 Ka you cited, for example is based on lowermost samples from Tabun C (and are probably intrusive from layer D) and the industry is the same as Qafzeh. The differences in the stone tools are clear and you can also check Shea 2008 in QSR.
All this has nothing to do with your NP hypothesis, because Modern humans, on the basis of genetics , came from Africa and this is where their characteristics were shaped.
Ofer [Ofer Bar-Yosef]
PS Too bad you did not contact me earlier- we have been in Sydney last summer.
While the chapters you read on the Levant outline salient aspects of the theory, they don’t convey the hypothesis (nor the proofs to support it) in its entirety. For example, you mention the genetic evidence for the ‘out of Africa’ scenario, but this evidence is also wholly consistent with my ‘back migration to Africa’ theory (Chapter 19, ‘Natural born killers’). This proposes that African MP hominids migrated to the Levant, underwent an abrupt transition to UP then dispersed back to Africa where admixture occurred with existing indigenous populations. This scenario finds support from Olivieri, A, et al. 2006, Science 314, based on measurements of genetic diversity in mtDNA and Y chromosome that concluded “the first Upper Palaeolithic cultures in North Africa (Dabban) and Europe (Aurignacian) had a common source in the Levant”, spreading by migration from a core area in the Levant.
Re “There is yet no evidence for the co-existence of the two populations or Skhul- Qafzeh moderns and the Neanderthals who occupied all ecological habitat in the Levant. They are in Dederiyeh (north Syria to down Tor Faraj in southern Jordan and of course in Mt Carmel and Wadi Amud” I’m afraid I don’t quite understand your point. Mt. Carmel has long been recognised as providing evidence of Neanderthal-early human sympatry.
It’s a pity I missed you in Sydney, I think talking face to face would remove the inevitable communication problems that creep into emails.
Putting aside the minutiae of the hypothesis for a moment (I’m sure it contains errors of both fact and theory) I feel the contribution of the book is in providing a new contextual framework – the ‘big picture’ if you like – for the study of the MP-UP transition of AMH, as well as explaining problematical aspects of modern human morphology and behaviour. The predation hypothesis may be entirely wrong but I find it difficult to envisage any other ecological scenario or any other confluence of environmental factors that could precipitate the emergence of fully modern humans in just a short period of time.
Again, many thanks for your valuable feedback,
Now it all makes sense…so simple, so neat, so obvious – one of those things that I wish I’d thought of!
Now, you religious nutters, what was that you were saying about satan and his demons…?
I just got the book. and having looked at the web site think that I understand the premise. I have been looking for many years for a trigger for the genius explosion of 35kya. This fits.
However, I must tell you that your pictures of Homo N. must be wrong. If they lived on or around the ice for 350ky then they would have been white. See the work on vitamin D and birth. Black skin is an adaptation to reduce the absorption of UV to modulate foliate. Both too much and too little have effects on prenatal mortality, heavy evolution driver.
Thanks for your email.
It’s not so much a matter of what colour Neanderthal skin was – we simply don’t know. It’s about whether their skin may have been covered with thick body fur, and if so, what colour was the fur?
The Europe that Neanderthals evolved in, while cold, was not polar, so it wasn’t blanketed all year round with snow. This meant that white fur (adopted by polar bears as camouflage) would not be adaptive.
If you apply simple Darwinian theory, it suggests that because all the other Late Pleistocene European animals – woolly mammoths, woolly rhinos, Eurasian cave lion, musk oxen, European bison and cave bear (see image below – from the book) had pelts of thick dark fur, it seems likely that Neanderthals did to.
This is because long dark fur insulates the vital organs and retains body heat. Today, animals that live in similar climates to Neanderthals – like the Asiatic black bear, Kodiak bear, Himalayan black bear, Formosan black bear, brown bear and grizzly bear – all have thick dark body fur.
The only reason Neanderthals would lose their fur is if they tailored insulating garments. But as no sewing needles have ever been discovered at Neanderthal sites, this doesn’t seem likely.
I discuss this topic in detail in Chapter 6 – ‘Out in the cold’ but basically I challenge the assumption that Neanderthals were ‘naked’ like us. I propose instead that a pelt of thick dark body fur would have been highly adaptive within the context of the Neanderthal’s periglacial environment.
All the best
19th. November, 2009
Kirsten Garratt interviews Danny Vendrmaini on ABC Radio National Book Show
Modern science has long painted Neanderthals as our placid cousins. But a new book claims that the Neanderthal was actually a brutal carnivore who hunted and raped humans and then ate them.
And it’s written not by a scientist or anthropologist, but an Australian former filmmaker.
Danny Vendramini, who describes himself as a ‘biological theorist’, has spent years researching the topic to paint a new but highly unflattering and grim picture of Neanderthal man.
The book is controversial not only because of its explosive theories but also because the author has no formal scientific background…
I have read a bit of the book, and I’m curious about a number of ideas.
First, let me say that this hypothesis casts the early 1980s film “Quest for Fire” into an entirely new light. I saw it for the first time just in the past year. I loved almost every bit of it, although I took issue with the ferocious and seemingly exaggerated depictions of neanderthals. Now I’m not so sure! I wonder if you were very familiar with this film, as it seems to be a prophetic film version of your hypothesis, including even the concept of sexual desire as a selective pressure that resulted in making early humans distinctly different from the neanderthals in both behavior and appearance. I’m not so sure about the helpful, neanderthal-hating mammoths!
Further, I know you address “bigfoot” ideas elsewhere, but please bear with me for a moment. I’ve seen ideas such as yours posited in the “cyptozoological literature” on the subject (aka “Bigfoot books”), primarily that the ubiquity of “wild man” memes in world culture has something to do with dim memories of our ancestors’ interactions with predatory hominids. To me, that is a HIGHLY ethnocentric argument, and one very typical of a reductionist mindset. I have noticed that we Westerners often take for granted that non-Western cultures’ views of reality are naive and fanciful. By declaring indigenous peoples’ beliefs in wildmen as mythologically cast memories of ancient realities, we must necessarily ignore (or label “false memories”) modern-era accounts of direct personal encounters with so-called wildmen, be they yeti, sasquatch, bigfoot, etc. Is it not possible, given the distinct similarities between what you describe as a neanderthal, and what folks in Asia and North America say that they have seen when they report archetypal “bigfoot sightings,” that remnant populations of neanderthals (more accurately, their descendants, since they too would have been subject to selective pressures) have continued to survive into the present day? In light of the considerable visual similarities between your model and typical bigfoot descriptions, it seems to me that one would have to seriously entertain such a possibility. To me, the anecdotal information and sparse (but real) physical artifacts point towards the reality of large, hairy, powerfully-built hominids living in rural and forested areas of Asia and North America. No, we have no bones, but we have footprints with fleshy ridges typical of hand/foot padding, hair samples, numerous bits of never-debunked video footage, etc. I think it is a huge intellectual leap to suggest that one is experiencing a “false memory” or some half-remembered archetype, when, walking through the woods in a National Forest, one happens upon a likewise surprised man-ape. Even as eminent a primatologist as Jane Goodall has said “Well now, you’ll be amazed when I tell you that I’m sure that they exist,” which she bases on consistent anecdotal data and active field research from around the planet. While this basic premise is largely secondary to the thrust of your book, it is sad to me that you (and many others) would summarily discount the reality of seemingly reliable informants, seemingly because the experiences they describe don’t fit into a certain worldview, or simply because they uneducated brown people. Certainly indigenous groups never EVER described chimps, bonobos, gorillas or orangutans as “forest people,” and we’ve certainly never affirmed the reality of these “forest people!”
Anyway, thanks for the forum, and triple thanks for spending the time to write your book and perhaps change the way we think about who we are and how we came to be that way!
Have you thought about how this stuff intersects with the parallels with Bonobo behaviour and the gracile skeletons found at lake mungo
Presumably the gracile skeletons were of a non violent hominid that may have used sex as a peace keeping tool like bonobos do
Hey I get the vision of these finely boned , sexy and intelligent little hominids
Fighting ugly and violent, stupid and canabalistic brutes
Could this be the source of the legends of the elves versus the trolls and the goblins?
Herein my review of your book which you may use on your website.
Although the author is not trained in this field I was immediately intrigued by this novel theory. When the book arrived, my first impression was encouraging. The design of the book is excellent and the illustrations well chosen. The colour pictures of the Neanderthal were most effective. There is a glossary at the end which will be useful to some plus a index which is adequate. The book also arrived 2 days after I ordered it from the website which was welcome as I am eager for the books I order.
Now to the reading. The theory is certainly a revolution but not at all difficult to read. The author discusses the evidence then reaches conclusions I would logically expect, but always leaves the door open to alternative explanations. More than once, I thought of alternative explanations for what was described but then he covered these in the discussion. He has a theory to push but the book itself is not pushy. When I finished it, I immediately began a second reading to review the main propositions and could find no flaws. The np theory became more convincing with the second read.
The excitement of these ideas have since occupied my mind and have helped make sense of the way we humans sometimes behave to others. In my life I have not read a more stimulating theory of science. Mr Vendramini is as important a theorist as T.G Dobzhansky. Very recommended. Five stars.
Danny Vendramini offers us very feasible and thoroughly researched explanations for many aspects of the homo sapiens character, particularly our intelligence, our ferocity and our xenophobia, that have previously been inexplicable. He provides us with a new perspective on the murderous and paranoid aspects of human nature that can help to guide us in our efforts to live peacefully and happily on our lovely planet. We clearly have so much more potential than we have already realised, if only we can sort out our psychological foibles. I attended a talk by the Dalai Lama this weekend at which he not only made reference to the 200 million people who died at the hands of others in the 20th century (as does Vendramini), but he also expounded on Darwinism! I’ll be sending him a copy of the book as I’m sure he’d be fascinated by it.
Musings of Gnwmythr
05 January, 2010
There are two, maybe three, books I would like every human to read. They are:
(1) Richard Dawkins’ book “The Selfish Gene”, which I especially recommend before having children – more so if one is strongly driven to have children;
(2) Danny Vendramini’s “Them and Us” (pub. Kardoorair Press, Glebe, 2009, ISBN 9780908244775 ), to be read especially by all would be alpha males/queen bees, but I would also recommend this for teenagers, law makers/enforcers and parents; and
(3) maybe Desmond Morris’ book “The Naked Ape” pub. 1967, hardback: ISBN 0070431744; reprint: ISBN 0-385-33430-3).
Why? Because these books help show us some of the biological imperatives which are built into our physical essences, the self same physical imperatives that we no longer “have” to follow – imperatives that, in fact, are possibly physically, socially, emotionally, ecologically and spiritually harmful to follow.
Have just finished reading Them and Us. It kept me entralled, one of the best books i have ever read. My congratulations to Danny, now i can understand evolution perfectly.
thanking you Nancy Locke
COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN COULD NOT STOP THINKING ABOUT IT.BEST SCIENCE BOOK EVER
JAY COLLINS NJ
Inspired by the book Them & Us, by Danny Vendramini, about the great evoltion leap ~50000 years ago.
I haven’t read the book yet but I am definitely going to. I have, however, read the comprehensive paper you wrote on Neandertal Predation Theory.
As a student in Paleoanthropology it certainly came from left-field. These days there is much ethnocentric pressure to “humanise” Neandertal; particularly by reconstructing their facial features in what is virtually our own image. In the past few years we have also ascribed to them art, speech and advanced cognition. It seems very difficult for us to imagine a hominin species that is other than “human”. Having said that, if I was to approach your hypothesis from a forensic stand-point I would be immediately struck by the lack of taphonomic evidence to support it. Surely, NT sites would be full of Cro Magnon bones showing signs of processing?
Thanks for you email and question. My review of the taphonomic evidence in the paper was not comprehensive due of the space limitations imposed by journals. Also, since the paper was written (in 2008) new taphonomic evidence has emerged from Neanderthal and early human sites which support my theory and predictions. The book includes this new evidence and I devote several chapters to it – too much to go into it here. May I suggest that if you still have questions after you’ve read the book, drop me a line and I’ll try to answer them.
Great to see ebook online at last. definitely worth the wait. sitting on laguna beach reading it now. mindblowing stuff. why arent you on oprah?
Dear Mr Vendramini,
I am no expert on the subject so am not confident to write a review, but I do want to tell you how inspired I have been by Them and Us. It has set me on the road to thinking about we human beings [ and myself] in a new condition. I have been writing a journal since reading it and keep noting down things that are connected to Neanderthal predation, such as our attitude to strangers and to foreigners too. A very interesting and thought provoking book
After just finishing your book (Them + Us) I felt compelled to write to you to say thank you. The book was so well written I just couldn’t put it down and the scope of the study blew my mind. I may not personally agree with every argument you have put forward but your ideas have certainly shaken the cobwebs out of my cerebrum and opened my mind to new possibilities, many of my entrenched ideas about the origin of humanity are definitely altered. Anyway just a quick note to say that your work is greatly appreciated and not since Stephen Oppenheimer’s ‘Eden in the East’ have I read such an excellent book that I believe could change the world.
I just finished reading your book and was very impressed. I would like to see a TV documentary based on your book.
I won’t attempt to review your book here because I think there would only by minor points of criticisms that could be made against it, and it is not my field of research anyway. However, I did think there was a discrepancy with the dates. You suggest on page 216 that the Cro Magnon dispersion began about 46,000 to 40,000 years ago and went as far as Australia. Aborigines have allegedly been in Australia for 60,000 years. Do you think there was a prior
dispersion (from Africa?) that must have started well before 60,000 years ago if the Aboriginal dates are correct?
I have included here some errors and typos that need fixing to improve the text. I hope you can edit these:
p. 65: “(cold stress) hypothermia” is incorrect — I think you meant
hypothermia. Hyperthermia is temperature above normal (not below as you
p. 82: “protrudng” should be protruding
P. 136 (caption): “a modern phenomena” should be: a modern phenomenon
p. 163: “fire lost is protectiveness” — “is” should be: its
p. 177: any sensory stimuli or cue” should be: stimulus
p. 188: Risk taking become” — “become” should be: became
p. 296 (caption): “an typical example” — “an” should: a
Well done for publishing such a highly provocative and controversial book.
Dr. Lance Storm
School of Psychology
University of Adelaide
Re the possible discrepancy with the dates of the human dispersal from the Levant, I appreciate your point but don’t see a problem. The dispersal dates you cite (on page 216) refer to the Cro-Magnon westward dispersal towards Europe, which occurred between 46,000-40,000 years ago. However, in the next chapter (beginning on page 237) I cite evidence to show that the eastward dispersal (towards Asia and Australia) began earlier – between 50,000 – 45,000 years ago.
As to whether there may have been a prior dispersal to Australia by archaic humans, on page 254, I address this possibility: “When Cro-Magnons arrived, there appears to have been at least one other hominid species already living in Australia—in the south of the continent. Known as the Kow Swamp people, they had relatively large and robust bodies and thick skulls indicating they were related to Homo erectus. It’s thought the Kow Swamp people arrived when there was still a land bridge between Australia and Asia.”
I hope this answers your question.
Subject: Deja vu
I read and enjoyed your book over Christmas so had a sense of deja vu this morning when I opened the NY Times –
you were on the money, lots of what you wrote is in there.
Thurs, May 6, 2010
Neanderthal Genome study supports predation theory
A major new study of the Neanderthal genome published last week in the prestigious journal, Science has provided dramatic evidence supporting an Australian author’s theory that Neanderthals hunted and raped early humans.
‘The Draft Sequence of the Neanderthal Genome’ is one of the largest genetics studies ever undertaken involving almost 60 authors and hundreds of technicians around the world. Among its findings are that Neanderthals mated with early humans in the Middle East before setting off on their global expansion.
The study, led by Svante Pääbo from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany report the interbreeding occurred between 100,000 to 60,000 years ago.
These findings were predicted in Australian evolutionary detective, Danny Vendramini’s 2009 book, Them and Us: how Neanderthal predation created modern humans released last year.
At the time, Vendramini’s theory that Neanderthals were ‘apex predators’ who hunted, cannibalized and raped early humans in the Middle East between 100,000 and 50,000 years ago was criticized by several anthropologists. The new genetic study confirms his evolutionary scenario, revealing that between 1- 4% of human genes come from Neanderthals.
Vendramini says the genes were acquired in the Middle East during the 50,000 years when Eurasian Neanderthals hunted and raped early humans. This resulted in thousands of half human – half Neanderthal hybrids.
According to Vendramini, the only humans to survive were those born with modern traits like high intelligence, creativity, aggression, language and guile. These fully modern humans turned the tables on their former predators and eventually wiped them out.
“They also killed most of the hybrids because they considered them mutants.” He adds, “It was evolution by infanticide.”
“When the modern humans left the Middle East to colonize Europe and the rest of the world, they inevitably took a few recessive Neanderthal genes with them.”
Commenting on the Draft Neanderthal Genome Sequence today from his home in Sydney, Danny Vendramini said, “I’m absolutely delighted. The best possible proof for a scientific theory is for its predictions to be confirmed by scientific observations, and that’s what’s happened here. The new data supports the view that the Middle East was the real cradle of humanity. Neanderthal predation of archaic humans is the only scenario that explains the Genome Sequence data.”
Just a quick hello from Alaska. Just wondering if you’ve soaking up the glory of being right! (probably worth adding a few quotes to your site” See here:
OK, Im eating crow tonite, it’s exactly the way you called it. I still can’t believe it. thought u were way off beam
I’ve downloaded a few of your chapters and find your ideas fascinating and totally logical, besides very good writing.
I think it’s too early to say I’m right, but yes, I couldn’t be happier. As I told a reporter today, it’s very satisfying if one of your theory’s predictions get confirmed by scientific observation, but today, I’ve had a whole raft of predictions and hypotheses (if not confirmed) then substantially strengthened.
May 6th 2010
Forget about the ‘HUNG PARLIAMENT’ headline on the front page of today’s Mirror. Check out Mike Swain’s piece inside about the Neanderthal gene study. YOU WILL LOVE IT.
We have not met, but I am a flatmate of Carl who very much enjoyed meeting you in Istanbul last month. I am studying anthropology in Berlin and he told me of your website and Ebook which I buy online.I very much enjoyed the ideas you propose which have been very helpful in my study of Neolithic warfare. I finish reading the book only last night then today the German news is about the study by Svante Pääbo of tthe Neandertals genome, and I could see immediately that many of the items he determined in his analysis were in your book already.
I am happy too that it was a Swede (Pääbo was born in Stockholm that played a part in showing your theory to be correct.
my best regards
I should point out that Dr. Paabo (despite being Swedish and brilliant) had a bit of help in writing the Draft Sequence of the Neanderthal Genome. Apart from the 60 other authors who werealso credited, hundreds of other laboratory technicians over the world also played a part in teasing that data from billions of fragments of chopped spaghetti-like DNA.
Thanks again and all the best to Carl.
Given I teach my students that scientific theories must have predictive ability, I guess you are to be congratulated. Your confirmed prediction that Neandertals had sexual relations with human women does strengthen your theory, but it is still not proof that everything you claim is correct.
So what does the Neandertal Draft Sequence mean for ‘Out-of-Africa?’ Is it dead in the water?
“The Leipzig group’s interbreeding theory would undercut the present belief that all human populations today draw from the same gene pool that existed a mere 50,000 years ago. “What we falsify here is the strong out-of-Africa hypothesis that everyone comes from the same population,” Dr. Paabo said.”
But then the Draft Sequence paper itself was more tempered:
“while the Neandertal genome presents a challenge to the simplest version of an “out-of-Africa” model for modern human origins, it continues to support the view that the vast majority of genetic variants that exist at appreciable frequencies outside Africa came from Africa with the spread of anatomically modern humans.”
I think this correctly says that ‘out-of-Africa’ needs to be tweaked. Yes, all ancestral humans originally came from Africa. But according to the Draft Sequence, it was only one population (living outside Africa in the Middle East) who recieved the Neanderthal genes and then carried then around the world.
A central tenet of NP theory is that humans didn’t become fully human in Africa. That happened in the Levant. That’s where archaic humans encountered predatory Neanderthals and were changed forever. In some it’s all semantics and my ‘out-of-the-Levant’ scenario is simply a fine-tuning of out-of-Africa.
The new politics of common sense. Neither Republican, Democratic, nor Libertarian.
May 10, 2010
Evil Neanderthals raped human women
From the Economist article:
Previous genetic analysis, which examined DNA passed from mother to child in cellular structures called mitochondria, had suggested no interbreeding between Neanderthals and modern humans. The new, more extensive examination, which looks at DNA in the cell nucleus, shows this conclusion is wrong. By comparing the DNA of Africans (whose ancestors could not have crossbred with Neanderthals, since they did not overlap with them) and various Eurasians (whose ancestors could have crossbred with Neanderthals), Dr Paabo has shown that Eurasians are between 1% and 4% Neanderthal.
That is intriguing. It shows that even after several hundred thousand years of separation, the two species were interfertile. It is curious, though, that no Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA has turned up in modern humans, since the usual pattern of invasion, in historical times anyway, is for the invaders’ males to mate with the invaded’s females.
Duh. The Neanderthals were way stronger than us, and a Neanderthal female would kill a Homo sapien male who tried to rape her, and literally eat him for lunch.
According to Rosas, there is evidence of cannibalism in Neanderthal remains from other European sites.
“I would say this practice… was general among Neanderthal populations,” he said.
If Neanderthals ate other Neanderthals, then they would certainly eat Homo sapiens.
Despite being as intelligent as Homo sapiens (up until around 45,000 years ago when Homo sapiens surpassed them, known as the Great Leap Forward), they were brutal beasts who would rape and kill Homo sapiens they came in contact with. This explains why no Homo sapiens existed in Europe until about 45,000 years ago. But when Homo sapiens learned how to use throwing weapons, and became smart enough to use smarter tactics against the Neanderthals, then they conquered Europe and over the course of the next 10,000 years wiped the Neanderthals out of existence.
May 10, 2010 | Permalink
Yawn. Old news.
Anyone interested in this should check out ThemandUs.org. Danny Vendramini is miles ahead of the MSM on this stuff.
Posted by: NeanderDude | May 10, 2010 at 07:47 PM
when I first read the pposts [sic] on this theory it sounded crazy, and I finally ordered the book I guess to confirm Mr Vendramini was a crackpot. Surprise surprise I was totally won over on the big picture he presents. I still have a few qualms about skin pigmentation: Neanderthals has [sic] red hair, but this has gotta be the best science book I have read.
I really loved the pictures too
On the subject of Neanderthal skin pigmentation, I have reviewed the literature on this subject and I can’t find any solid evidence to support the view that Neanderthals had red hair.
10th September, 2010
My name is Steve Lowry. I am currently a Sophomore at Bennington College. I emailed you last year asking you a few questions about the Neantherthal Cro- Magnon offspring that I found very interesting. I believe that your NP theory is correct sir. I have read to page 230 of your book and only have a few more pages to read. I am saddened by this fact as I have been soaking up every chapter with the utmost interest and respect. I believe in your theory as it makes the most sense more than any other author I have encountered. I have read Jarred Diamonds book Collapse and the fact that he agrees with your theory of genocidal replacement is speaking to me to the fullest. I woke up about ten years ago that we all come from a past which is terribly difficult to understand but with science there is a prayer that we will fully understand it someday. Not to flatter you sir, but I believe that you are a genius. Your work is something I have introduced to my colleagues and they are as interested as I am about our past. Your book has spoken to me far deeper than any other book I have read about our ancestors and where we come from. I believe you have a book following “Them and Us.” What is the name of it? Sir, your work has changed my life and I wish to know more.
All the best Mr. Vendrimini,
I’m touched by your generous comments. Many thanks.
The next book, ‘The Second Evolution’ is coming out next year. Here’s a link to the website, (www.thesecondevolution.com) which has lots of info on it, including a paper published in a British journal.
In that book I put forward a fairly radical idea – that natural selection – the evolutionary process discovered by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace in 1859 isn’t the only evolutionary process regulating life on earth – nor is it the process that created the ‘big ticket’ items – like new species. I believe a second evolutionary process came on stream about 543 million years ago to provide the first animals with a means of acquiring inheritable behaviours that were shaped (or at least accommodated) the organism’s current environment. In other words, the first animals needed a means of acquiring new ‘environment specific’ instincts, emotions and innate behaviours to help them survive their challenging (and often very challenging) environments. They needed to instinctively recognize predators and prey, find preferred food, know how to find mates and reproduce, build habitats, find migration grounds and a thousand other survival skills related to their specific environment. This new process (which I call teemosis) provided the genetic mechanism for them to ‘recognize’ the environment and factor it into their instincts, which provided much more adaptive survival strategies. I then argue that these new behaviours drove the evolution of physical traits.
Significantly, I used ‘teem theory’ to formulate Neanderthal Predation Theory so I know it works as a predictive model – always a good test of a hypothesis.
Anyway, check out the website. And thanks again for your kind remarks.
September 13th. 2010
I just finished reading Them and Us. Enjoyed it immensely and have told several friends about it. I’m reading it a second time now.
I wanted to see if you could offer some thoughts about a couple issues. In the book, you discuss the role of horror stories getting passed on through the ages and the popularity of horror movies in today’s society. Do you feel that horror movies and similar forms of entertainment are our subconscious way of keeping our fear teems alive? An instinctual method of “keeping us sharp” and reminding us of who we are and where we came from? Or do you think they might just be another manifestation of our deep-seated fears that were formed during the darkest days of the predation period?
Also, I’m probably not the first person to think of this, but I have had a theory about spectator sports that came to mind while I was reading your book. Humans have always had a fascination with watching members of their species perform physical feats at the highest level, be it football, jousting, gladiator combat, boxing, pole vaulting, cycling… you name it. Speed, agility, strength, endurance, determination–those are attributes of all the great athletes, and when we watch these athletes perform at their peak, I believe we are in fact viewing and admiring their survival skills. Modern sports could be seen as our unconscious way of celebrating our triumph over the Neanderthals, perhaps?
Thanks again for working so hard and sharing your theories with us all. I believe you have found a missing piece of the puzzle and that history will shine favorably on your work.
Alvin Chang, Virginia, USA
Thanks for the feedback, I always love hearing from readers. Thanks too for the interesting questions.
Where to start?
Our Neanderthal teems are constantly being triggered by myriad environmental stimuli – tings like darkness, solitude, forests, loud noises, work stresses, overpopulation, news reports, angry faces and personal conflicts. I call this being ‘primed.’ When triggered, teems release emotions like dread, anxiety, depression, panic, anger, jealousy and that most enigmatic of all human emotions – paranoia – the sense that someone or something is out to get us. We intuitively attempt to give ‘body’ to these ephemeral emotions, to provide a rational context for them – to help understand, process and ultimately express them. Nightmares do that. And movies and books do it. They help release the innate fears that reside below the surface of every human on earth, fears of horrific creatures that we no longer have any conscious memory of but who continue to affect our daily lives.
Re spectator sports:
Evolutionary psychologists have long been intrigued by our obsession for spectator sports. As every single culture on earth indulges in some form of competition-spectator behavior, it’s generally assumed to be part of human nature. But so far, no cogent theory has emerged to explain its evolutionary origins because no one has been able to say how and why emotions associated with spectator activity (primarily excitement, but also envy, aspiration and empathy) are adaptive – how getting excited watching someone compete could increase survival rates.
However, when I analysis these excitement emotions through the prism of teem theory, it suggests that the original ‘spectator excitement’ teems almost certainly predate Neanderthal predation – possibly by several million years. I think they were originally encoded during contests for sexual partners that are ubiquitous among the higher animals – including primates. During the mating season, males display to females to solicit sex and engage in real and ritualized battles with other males to gain first access to fertile females. These contests, often dangerous and sometimes lethal, are watched with keen interest not only by females, but also by the young aspiring males, who dream of one day entering the arena themselves.
If nothing else, these mating contests are exciting – and females invariably choose mates from the victorious alpha males – so the emotions they generate in the spectators are highly adaptive. This would explain why these teems, although vestigial, are still functional today. Although the females choose the ‘most exciting male’ this invariably means they’re selecting the fastest, strongest, smartest, most determined male, which is good for survival.
Today, the victors of these contests, the David Beckhams, Roger Federers and Tiger Woods still gain easy access to females.
I rest my case.
Hope this is of use. Thanks for the opportunity to think about this interesting subject.
14 September 2010
Neanderthal predation and the bottleneck speciation of modern humans
Fantastic, compelling & thought provoking paper – I’m going to read it again!
22 Sept 2010October 1, 2010
I am about 150 pages into your book “THEM + US”. Cost me about $60 to have it mailed here to the states from Australia . I could have waited. Maybe someday Amazon would have it. But let me tell you it was worth the money,
I have read extensively on human evolution, Neanderthals, the “Missing Link” etc, etc, and your book is outstanding and your theory of NP is captivating.
A grateful reader from Ohio says THANKS for writing a book I can’t put down. I am looking forward to your next book. No matter what it costs me.
Many thanks. I hope you find the rest of the book as good as the first 150 pages.
Sorry about the high price – the book is only $39 but the postage is $20. We’re hoping to get an American publisher soon which will bring down the price considerably.
When I studied anthropology I was taught that scientists had solved the riddle of the ascent of sapiens – our ancestors left the trees for the savannas -we are smart because we had to hunt for food, we lost our fur to keep cool – we are bipedal because we had to peer over the tall grass for predators. My son is studying anthropology and gets the same lectures today. This theory has always felt [too] trite to explain why sapiens are different. Now my son says there’s a new theory – yours. His professor says your book will become the new paradigm if it isn’t debunked. I’ve been online and can’t find anything that debunks it but remain skeptical – as new theories arrive all the time but most turn out to be wrong. No offense but waht [sic] response has your book got from other scientists? In the meantime, I ordered the book from the publisher.
No offense taken. No one has tried harder to debunk my theories than me. The last thing I want is to put out a flawed theory. That’s why I waited ten years to publish – I had to be sure it would stand up. And it has. As far as I know, no one who has actually read the book has said it was wrong. On the contrary, since the book came out, new evidence has only strengthened it. The latest is the finding of the Draft Sequence of the Neanderthal Genome (Science, May 10th 2010 ) When they looked at genes that occur in modern humans that don’t occur in Neanderthals, they found the genes that regular human skin (pigmentation, texture etc.) had undergone significant recent changes – exactly as predicted by NP theory. It’s things like this that make me confident the theory will stand the test of time.
Danny October 08, 2010
Dear Mr. Vendramini,
I am not an anthropologist or biologist. However, I am very interested in them and us, thus I read your Us + Them.
I wonder if you would reconsider, briefly, whether the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis might be merged in some small degree with your NP theory. Bear with me a moment, then please feel free to slap me down as necessary, since I am admittedly no expert in any of this material.
The AAH uses certain time frames for their evolutionary action to take place simply because that’s just where it seemed to fit based on known history, and the needs of the hypothesis. However, NP exacts the same selective pressure that inland flooding does in the original AAH. One theory has it that humans were merely wading creatures, for the reason that predators in their environment would have been averse to following them into water. This theory originally was not terribly compelling because: Who were these dangerous predators who, furthermore, were unable to swim?
If neanderthals were indeed tightly bound in muscle, it stands to reason that they would have been extremely poor swimmers (because muscle is denser/heavier than fat). Subcutaneous fat in high ratio to muscle, especially in modern Europeans, makes us much more proficient at surviving water for extended periods. If nothing else, hairlessness, along with at least a few of the other modern human attributes we developed recently, surely DO make us safer in water–whether by chance or selection.
You mention in the book yourself that these pre-modern humans lived in the lowland coastal areas. If and when the neanderthals emerged from the tree-lines to descend on humans, perhaps those humans made a run for the beaches. They could have floated or swam, while the neanderthals would most probably have sunk.
Another thought I had was that denudism in most normal mammals usually denotes sickliness. Perhaps we and other animals know this instinctually. They are not something you’d want to go near, let alone eat. Do you suppose this or some other factors could have proven an early catalyst which humans only later embraced as a sign of beauty?
I’m not arguing against your theory, I’m just wondering if water or some other factor was a catalyst or rather a strength-multiplier, so to speak, for the denudism that came. Perhaps the loss of hair, thus, was a combination of environmental, artificial and natural selection. I do have to say, the loss of hair seems too detrimental to me, I just can’t see how creating easier identification/species-distinction would be more significant than thermal regulation.
Anyway, thank you for your work on this subject, very much. Entertaining and enlightening.
Sorry for taking so long to get back to you.
Thanks for your interesting questions and thoughts about the possibility of some connection between Aquatic Ape Theory (AAT) and NP theory.
For that to happen, it would require APT to be correct – and although I was initially intrigued by the theory (because it tried to resolve some fundamental problems about human evolution – like why we look so different to other primates) I now think it’s completely wrong.
The reason is that the theory is not supported by the latest evidence. For example, the theory predicts that humans underwent a period of aquatic living, estimated to have occurred between 2 – 6 million years ago. That’s when we’re supposed to have lost our body hair.
This prediction has now been tested by genetics. The release of the draft sequences of the human genome and more recently, the 2010 Draft Sequence of the Neanderthal Genome have both confirmed that the genes regulating human skin were subject to alterations (what’s called a ‘recent selective sweep’) much more recently – between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago.
These estimates are I believe the final nail in the AAT coffin, but at the same time, they add a great deal of credibility to NP theory, because it predicted that humans lost their hair at precisely this time.
As to whether creating easier identification alone could cause the loss of our body hair – it’s important to remember that it wasn’t just natural selection at work (hairy individuals were more likely to be killed by other humans.) It was also sexual selection as well – women were repulsed by hairy men and wouldn’t mate with them.
It was this combined selection pressure that brought about such rapid denudation.
Hope this answers your questions,
12th November 2010
MORE PROOF OF YOUR THEORY
As you claim that Neandertal man was a compulsive sexual hunter you will be interested in this new page. It is exactly as you describe.
Danny Vendramini, Them + Us (Armidale : Kardoorair Press, 2009)
I remember, in the closing days of my time as a Christian, that a tract’s argument that the (presumably only) Neanderthal skeleton was only that of an individual with a severe case of arthritis. I mention it here, because, in the history of palaeontology, our reconstructions of what early hominids have must have seemed has changed, often to suit the biases of the perceivers.
It’s about time, Danny Vendramini argues, that our view of the Neanderthals changed.
A not uncommon view is of the Neanderthal as a peaceful, almost treehugging omnivores. Instead, Vendramini argues that the physiological evidence supports a different conclusion, that the
Neanderthals were apex predators, and that their predation on early hominids triggered the speciation event that created modern humans. In doing so, he argues that those features of human anatomy and psychology which seem distinctively human are the result of a
combination of predation and sexual selection, to distinguish us (in essence) from appearing too alike a Neanderthal, brought about by the fear and revulsion engendered by the Neanderthal species. In doing so,
he accounts for the rise of art, of symbolic language, and of many other aspects of human civilisation which have resisted attempts at finding an evolutionary purpose.
For the most part, I find the methods used, and the arguments and conclusions unproblematic. I am unable to say the same, regarding myself and teem theory. This is largely due to my lack of understanding of the mechanisms proposed, and it seems to me that it is less complicated to posit that since human personality seems genetically based, an easier argument is that our instinctive reactions are personality traits that proved to be beneficial for the
individuals’ chances of survival until they could reproduce.
In any case, Vendramini gives a significant hypothesis that is well buttressed with evidence, much of it drawn from the existing literature. It is a sound argument, well argued, and it should be more widely known and considered. They also display a clear idea of the processes of evolutionary mechanisms, and, in explaining those aspects of ourselves that are unique, Vendramini demonstrates that, in being
clearly shaped by evolutionary forces, we are as much animals as the other species on earth.
I used to believe in God, and towards the end fell back on believing in a “God of the gaps.” As science as progressed, those gaps have grown smaller and finer; with Them + Us, Danny Vendramini has closed a great deal more.
Reading the book was like watching Star Wars the first time and the battle between Good and Evil. I was right in there. Problem is the book is not in stores here where all the action is and is wasted downunder. Go Danny
obi one Seattle WA
December 6th 2010
Thanks for your comments.Regarding the Neanderthal diet, as a rule, species don’t arbitrarily change their dietary preferences. Look at gorillas – they’ve remained vegetarian despite the availability of small prey species.Judging by isotope analysis of the enamel in Neanderthal’s teeth, their diet never changed – it remained totally meat based.
The video shows various reconstructions of Neanderthals, some with dark fur, and at least one (right) with reddish-brown fur.
While some modern cold climate animals have opted for dark fur (the black bear, brown bear etc) others have lighter coloured fur. Personally I think that sexual selection may be a more important arbiter of fur colour than climate. All it would take is for females to develop an emotional preference for a particular colour fur and that woUld eventually result in that colour spreading to fixation – simply because females would only mate with males displaying that colour.
7th December 2010
As an avid student of the history of science, I’m aware that scholars with long and distinguished careers often get personal when radical new scientific theories challenge their cherished paradigms. So I guess your response was to be expected. But you need to remember that I’m extrapolating my theories from the same sound Darwinian principles you draw on. Just because my interpretation of Neanderthal behavioural ecology is different from yours doesn’t mean I deserve to be insulted. Attacking the man rather than the theory not only reduces your credibility as a scientist, it also hampers our common objective – the advancement of science.I’m not interested in getting into a slanging match with you. I’m interested in testing and improving my theory of human evolution and that means not only ruthlessly culling any dead wood, but ditching the whole thing if the evidence suggests it’s wrong. So what I would welcome from you is a constructive, criticism of my work. In other words, don’t just say it’s “rubbish from the uninformed” – explain why it’s rubbish, and cite your
references. That way, you get a chance to demolish an uninformed interloper (who you feel threatened by) and I get my theory given the acid test by a world class scientist – something I welcome wholeheartedly.What have you got to lose?If you would like the latest copy of the book, with its 800 references, let me know and I’ll post it ASAP.
6th DecemberHi Stephen,
The Neanderthals didn’t migrate as a fully formed species from Africa to Europe. It was one of their ancestors – probably Homo heidelbergensis – who left Africa and settled in Europe. As the climate deteriorated, these people gradually morphed into a new cold climate adapted species – Neanderthals. Once they were adapted to that environment, they would have no need to leave.
I saw your video on Youtube which I think is amazing but I didn’t believe that Neandertals would rape humans. I learned at college they were intelligent beings who buried their dead. So I checked out the Neandertal Genome study on the net to see for myself.http://www.sciencemag.org/content/328/5979/710.fullOn page 718 I came across this – ‘DIRECTION OF GENE FLOW’ It says and I quote “all or almost all of the gene flow detected was from Neanderthals into modern humans.” Can you explain, does this really mean that Neandertal men were having sex with human girls but human men were not having sex with Neandertal girls?Dick Wagner
12 December 2010
Yes, that is exactly what it means. The direction of gene flow is tremendously important. The genetic data shows convincingly that Neanderthal males copulated with human females – but that human males didn’t copulate with Neanderthal females – which is exactly what my sexual predation theory predicts. Coerced copulation – or rape – is the only scenario that explains this direction of gene flow.
I might add that no other theory of human evolution comes close to explaining this extraordinary genetic data.
DickThanks again Dick. Actually, in my book I estimated Neanderthal sexual predation of early humans occurred between 100,000 and 50,000 years ago. Pretty damn close.
December 16th 2010
24th December 2010
VIC from VIC
24 December 2010
Danny – I have since read your paper again, as well as your ‘teem’ paper:I too suspect that some non-coding DNA has a function, but I disagree with your theory that such DNA can be created as a result of environmental stressors – which I think is your contention. In my view your paper has failed to propose a credible mechanism by which this might happen, as it has also failed to demonstrate where and how this may have happened in shaping the behaviours of other species.A more plausible explanation is as follows:· Some non-coding DNA may have a behavioural function.
· In any event, coding DNA has a huge role to play in brain size, structure, chemistry and behavioural predilections.
· DNA related to brain development (either non-coding or coding – it doesn’t matter too much) mutates, from time to time, and in some rare instances and circumstances this confers a net evolutionary advantage via natural or sexual selection.
. In terms of natural selection, the advantage may be conferred on either the individual, or the group (of which many will likely share the mutation); OR
. In terms of sexual selection, the advantage would offer higher changes of reproductive success (e.g. as an indicator of fitness).
Re the powerful capacity of sexual selection to drive rapid changes in the evolution of the human brain , I suggest you read The Mating Mind by Geoffrey Miller.
What I think needs further development in your work is how sexual selection in humans, combined with the more obvious natural selection pressures, could have been shaped by the very peculiar environmental stressors of Neanderthal predation in the Levant.
In your NP evolutionary arms race, both human and Neanderthal populations would have been adapting under natural selection pressures – presumably at around the same pace. However, perhaps sexual selection in humans proved to be a deciding factor in humans winning the arms race in the end. Perhaps the developing male and female brains in humans reached a point where they not only selected for non-neanderthal physical attributes, but were also smart enough to identify those intellectual capabilities (such as language; strategic capability; morality), that might confer specific advantages in responding to the threat of NP. And by selecting for these indicators of fitness, sexual selection accelerated dramatically the development of the human mind to the point where Neanderthals could be resoundingly out-smarted
This, to me, makes much more sense than teem theory.
Cheers – Tim
Please accept my apologies for taking so long to respond, I’ve been very busy of late.
Thanks for your thoughts on teem theory. The chapter on teem theory in Them and Us is only a very potted version of the theory, as was the paper published in Medical Hypothesis in 2005.
Some of the issues you raise are too complex to deal with here, but are all comprehensively covered in my forthcoming book, “The Second Evolution” out next year. This book is entirely about teem theory and how it drives the evolution of biological complexity on earth.
As to whether there is any solid scientific proof for teem theory, a reader recently sent me a link to a paper in an American journal with the subject line, “Here’s your proof.”
The journal was The American Naturalist (March 2010 issue) and it featured a remarkable paper by Professor Jonathan Storm of the University of South Carolina Upstate and Professor Steven Lima of Indiana State University. They reported that crickets traumatized by predatory wolf spiders passed their newly acquired fears to their offspring.
The researchers blunted the fangs of wolf spiders with wax then put them in an enclosure with pregnant crickets. The spiders hunted and attacked the crickets but could not kill them. When the traumatized crickets laid eggs, their offspring were 113% more likely to try to evade wolf spiders than control crickets that had not been exposed. As a result they had higher survival rates.
The researchers said that ‘forewarned’ crickets were also more likely to freeze when they encountered spider silk or feces, which also helped them avoid detection.
Professors Storm and Lima reported, “Transfer of information from mother to offspring about predation risk, in the absence of any parental care, may be more common than one might think.”
The researchers said they could not explain how the intergenerational transfer of environmental information occurred, but my from perspective, this is undoubtedly a simple anti-predator teem created by the teemosis evolutionary process.
To my knowledge, this is the first teem to be created in the laboratory. It provides the strongest evidence yet for the existence of the teemosis process. It additionally demonstrates how teems are adaptive. The offspring had learned to escape and evade a predator they had never actually seen. Very exciting.
28 December 2010
December 13, 2010
I still have a question about the DNA or genome or whatever you want to call it. We know that when a horse copulates with a donkey you can end up with a mule. But a mule is sterile and can’t pass down any genes. However, Neanderthal DNA has been found in some humans which indicates that they were so genetically similar to us (I think we were once called Cro Magnon), that an offspring from such a union would be fertile. But it seems to me that since the two “races” were so apparently different, then the offspring would look like a freak and would probably be clubbed to death. Especially considering the trauma of sexual predation. I mean, xenophobia is rife today, imagine what it was like back then. I know this isn’t your main argument, but I’m still interested in your opinion.
Regards – StephenHi Stephen,
Thanks for your question about DNA and interbreeding between Neanderthals and humans.The scenario you outline: that early humans and Neanderthals were sibling species and could produce fertile offspring, that Neanderthals had sex with humans, that the ‘mutant’ children looked like ‘freaks and were ‘clubbed to death,’ and that xenophobia is still part of human nature are all core elements of NP theory and covered in detail in the book. All these claims were recently verified by the Draft Sequence of the Neanderthal Genome.
31st December 2010
DANNY VENDRAMINI BLOG ON
THE QUESTION OF NEANDERTHAL DIET
A friend phoned my this morning to say he’d seen a report on CNN that Neanderthals cooked and ate vegetables. He asked if this contradicted my theory that Neanderthal were carnivorous predators?
Not at all. Firstly, CNN misreported that Neanderthals ate vegetables. The paper only asserts the sample Neanderthals consumed several kinds of grass seeds, possibly parts of the water lily plant, and palm dates. They also report that some of the grains show damage consistent with cooking.
None of this is really new. A 2005 paper reported finding thousands of microscopic grains and seeds in the Neanderthal cave at Kebara in Israel. They also found evidence of charring suggesting that some seeds had been cooked.
Clearly, when prey were in short supply and the prospect of starvation loomed, any edible food would be on the menu, especially seasonal fruits like palm dates and even hard seeds that were practically indigestible unless cooked.
However the fact that no mill stones (required to grind grains to extract nutrients) or storage pits have ever been found at Neanderthal sites suggests that grasses and grains were not a major part of their diet.
As for the cooking, it’s been known for decades that Neanderthals were fire makers, and some bones at their sites reveal signs of cooking. It makes sense that as well as using fires to keep warm, they also used them to cook and heat food.
Ultimately, what’s important is the percentage of their diet that was deprived from vegetative matter – and we know the answer from microscopic isotope analysis of Neanderthal dental enamel. Approximately 1% of their diet came from plants. The remaining 99% came from meat.
FT- St James, Bristol9th Jan 2011
Thanks for that. Yeah, I think I have been slack. It’s partly that all my energies go into the science and there’s not a lot left over for marketing. But you’re right, and I will try to put some time aside to get the book published overseas.
Thanks for your email. Sorry, I’m afraid I’m not sure what your question is. Is it about bipedal location?
4th Feb 2011
5th Feb 2011
18th. Feb 2011
24th. Feb 2011
14th. March 2011
Martin.P.S Forgot to mention that I think your video has some pretty good points. Neanderthal reconstructions are far too humanized, often their hairlines are even set high to provide the illusion of a normal forehead.So much effort really seems to go into making them as human as possible, to the point where they almost resemble certain humans more then actual humans do. None of the typical reconstructions actually seem entirely human to me, but that’s probably only because I am familiar with how faces are supposed to be structured.P.P.S Also I believe you take your Neanderthal predation theory too far. Too far being the point to where you try to pin the human fear of cat-like eyes and the dark on Neanderthals.Large cats were eating hominids for quite some time and still do occasionally, and many predators are out at night, which is hard for humans to see during. This explains those fears perfectly for me.Neanderthals may have been nocturnal but I doubt their eyes were cat-like.
But still I love seeing a Neanderthal that isn’t the result of someone trying to twist it into a human. Most reconstructions of them give them a hairline set higher then many humans.
But one thing I find interesting about your reconstruction is that even with it’s typical primate features I can still see its relation to humans in its face. In a way it is still more human then existing apes, even without our soft tissue features.
Thanks for your comments and questions.I take your point and am suitably chastened for straying beyond science into politics – but you have to allow yourself some respite from all those tortuous facts.Re your cluster of interesting questions, the answer to all of them – in my view – is ‘yes.’ The beast still lives within us.
3rd. May 2011
Like others said before, I believe you exagerated the neanderthal’s eyes a bit, as well in shape (usually nocturnal primates have rounder eyes) as in size.
And after all, from antic art until today we adore women with big eyes(but generally do not like somebody with a eye distance too large like neanderthals had).
That said, I think you gave too little credit to our girls in regards to
sexual selection, especially in the realm of romantic love as the main model for succesful breading.
And that today(and probably then) they’re less hairy then men on average is mainly a function of lesser androgenes during/after puberty (evidenced by the virilisation that happens to female bodybuilders when they abuse steroids).
In any case Them and Us is a must read!
You seem to be trying to explain away sightings of unknown primates such as the yeti, yeren, mande-burung, sasquatch, yowie, orang-pendek and so on as imagination triggered by fossil memories of aggressive Neanderthals.. This s a gross insult to the thousands of people worldwide that have seen these creatures, including respected scientists. Imagination does not, as far as I’m aware, leave huge footprints with dermal ridges, leave hair that has been classified as from ‘an unknown primate’ by several laboratories (such as the yeren hair from Hubi Province, China), throw rocks so large it take two men to even lift them, kill livestock, steal food or kill guard dogs with clubs.
In 209 I saw the footprints of an orang-pendek in Kerinci National Park, West Sumatra. I have worked with all the known great apes and are familiar with their tracks in all kinds of medium. The orang-pendek’s tracks are totally different to any know species. I have also heard the animal’s call on a number of occasions. On the same expedition one of my friends, Dave Archer and our native Guide Sahar Dimus saw the creature in a tree. It climbed down and walked away on two legs like a man. Sahar has lived in the jungle all his life and he knew what he saw was not a gibbon, orang-utan (unknown in West Sumatra any how) or sunbear. The hair samples we brought back were tested at the University of Copenhagen who concluded it was from ‘a new species of primate’.
In 2010, in the Garo Hills of North East India my colleagues and I found massive, man-like tracks in damp earth. In the same are the mande-burung or Indian Yeti has been reported. I weigh 18 some and my prints hardly impacted into the earth at all. The ones we found were around two inches deep.
Respected Ukrainian biologist Gregory Panchinko has seen the Russian almasty on several occasions, once from a distance of only ten feet.
In fact none of the creatures mentioned above has much in common with the Neanderthals aside from being hairy. The orang-penndek is much smaller with longer arms, the other are larger and have sagittal crests on the head that were totally lacking in the Neanderthal. None of them use fire and none make tools to the level that Neanderthals did. The whole idea is a none starter.
It seems pretty obvious that we are dealing with several unknown species not over active imaginations.
Yours Richard Freeman
Thanks for your email and interesting comments and observations, you obviously have a deep interest in and knowledge of cryptozoology.
For me, just as important as the quest to discover of these mysterious creatures is to answer the question: why hasn’t one been captured yet – either dead or alive? As you correctly point out, there have been reported sightings all over the world – but still no evidence that will stand up.
Secondly, why, despite absolutely no hard physical scientific evidence are people still convinced they exist?
My theory attempts to answer both these questions – if they haven’t been found yet (after all this time) you have to conclude they don’t actually exist.
Secondly, humans maintain a belief in their existence because it’s encoded in our DNA – and always will be, so no amount of evidence to the contrary will be wholly persuasive.
We will have to agree to disagree.
Best wishes and thanks again for your feedback,
May I ask you a question that you very likely heard several times before?What is you viewpoint abuout the idea that reports of so-called bigfoot, yeti & co are the results of surviving neanderthals?
Great to get your email. Thanks.
Don’t procrastinate – you’ll regret it. And don’t be put off because you’re not a scientist. For high level theoretical science – the kind of science that ventures beyond the known, there can only be one real qualification- and that’s Imagination. As Einstein said,
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.”
So get your idea out there before someone else does.
PS – No, haven’t sent the book to Elaine Morgan
Due to work commitments, Danny no longer monitors this page. However, he’s asked for the email below (received on 22nd June, 2015) to be included.
Dear Mr. Vendramini,
I just finished the E-book version of Them & Us and was astonished by the concept brought by your theory.
I can´t help but ask you: What happened to the Cro-magnons who went after European Neanderthals? Unlike their African and Asian cousins, they continued to fight those fierce, dreadful killers for another 20,000 years. That´s 1,000 generations of selective pressure. I am not talking about teemic response, it´s the “real thing” response, so here is the thing:
Another 20,000 years may have has some other impact on the genes of European Cro-magnon, but not on the genes of humans who had moved to Asia and Africa.
Here´s my theory: RH negative blood, which, up to know, has no convincing theory for its existence, may have emerged as the ultimate weapon against neanderthal predation. In fact it is the Neanderthal proof womb. Let me explain: if a Neanderthal male (RH positive, as other apes) mates with a human female, and if she has Rh negative blood, the fetus will definitely die, (hemolytic disease). That means no offspring anymore – ever. Remember that blood transfusions to fix that are very recent in human history.
Strangely, Europeans have the highest amount of Rh neg blood. In Spain, (the last stronghold of Neanderthals) there is a population (of Basques) which has the highest rate of rh Neg in the world, around 30%.
In the animal kingdom this happens when sibling species mate (a horse with a donkey for instance). In our case, that would be somewhat maladaptive, because most Cro-Magnons also had RH positive blood, so it didn´t become fixed throughout the entire population.
HSE Engineer, São Paulo, SP Brazil
Thanks for your email. I think your idea regarding the possible adaptive function of RH negative blood is a bold and very plausible hypothesis. It’s exactly the kind of complex physiological adaptation that natural selection may have favoured to prevent, or at least, reduce the prevalence of Neanderthal-human hybridization. Well done. You clearly understand evolutionary biology very well, and especially how selection pressure for new adaptations can drive physical evolution. I wish more of my colleagues were like you. It’s one of the best responses I’ve had to NP theory.
As for me I don’t feel I have enough medical knowledge of blood groups and their relationship to infertility and disease to be of much use in developing or testing your original theory at this stage. But if I ever write a new edition, I’ll certainly include your hypothesis in it, along with any further thoughts you have on it. In the meantime, I’d like to post your email on my website in the hope that others may contribute to it.
(23rd June, 2015)